I’m the first to admit it: From time to time (and by that I mean every time I’m in a car), I suffer from a bad case of .
It’s impossible not to feel it on the Westside. Wilshire Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. are affected by rush hour just as much as the 10 or 405 Freeways. My form of road rage is probably the same as yours. I don’t honk, I don’t swerve from lane to lane recklessly—I stick to screaming at people with my windows up so no one actually hears me. It’s so therapeutic. It’s like punching a pillow: You get to release your anger and no one gets hurt.
It’s become pretty clear that in Santa Monica, and they are well aware of their power. I’m baffled at the blind confidence that pedestrians crossing Wilshire Blvd. have, walking across oncoming traffic without even looking up from their cell phones to make sure they aren’t hit by the barrage of 2,000-pound vehicles heading toward them. This all seems pretty ironic to me, considering the amount of drivers in those cars who are either texting or talking on their phones while driving as well.
I get that we live on the Westside, and the beach atmosphere is a key element of why we love it here and why we pay the amount of rent we do. When , one of the first things I did was scour Craigslist for a so I could fit in and get from place to place without having to move my car and look for parking again. (It’s awful by my apartment, so biking places actually saves time during peak hours).
As an avid Santa Monica bike rider, I’m well aware of the laws. Also, I'm able to see things from the pedestrian side of this interaction. I know there are many intersections with designated crosswalks and no stop sign or stoplights, which creates an interesting dilemma. The pedestrian has to show some intent on crossing the street, and wait until he gains the attention of both lanes of cars. That's often no easy task—there is a lot of non-verbal communication that takes place. Here are a few techniques I’ve seen Santa Monica pedestrians implementing on Wilshire:
The False Predictor: This one is ridiculous yet just happened to me today. Someone at a big intersection has a four-way stop sign yet still can’t figure it out. They try to predict when the little red hand will become the white walking man on the crosswalk light, and fail miserably … but that doesn’t stop them from still crossing the street anyway! They’ll back up traffic for a full block on a green light and not even look over to say they’re sorry.
The Busy Businessman: The worst. These guys are too busy with their Bluetooths and Blackberrys to even notice the fact that there are dozens of vehicles barreling toward them. They’re too busy on a conference call to wait their turn to cross the street. I can’t stand people who think their lives are more important than everyone else’s, and The Busy Businessman is one of the guiltiest parties.
The Magician: My personal favorite. The pedestrian who stick his hand out making a “stop” motion, as if he could stop your car in mid-stride with one wave of his magical hand. It’s so demanding and assuming to do that to a total stranger, I don’t even get mad, because it’s so ridiculous. If you combine The Busy Businessman with The Magician, a man on his Bluetooth holding his hand out in front of your car telling you to stop, you have my ultimate most hated pedestrian.
This has been a little rant-y, but I think you catch my drift. We all have , and we need to communicate between pedestrian and driver. Yes, the driver’s test tells you that the pedestrian has the right of way—and it’s true. Don’t forget, though, that the driver is armed with 2,000 pounds of metal. With the amount of distractions drivers have on the road (cell phones, GPS devices, iPods), you might want to double-check that the drivers see you before waltzing down the street.